Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Mrs Div: 'Your blog's gotten pretty boring recently'
Me: 'Yeah, I know, but I'm not playing enough poker to write about it'
Mrs Div: 'Well, it's called Poker, Pique, and Parenthood. Write about something else.'
So true. Tonight is pique night...
I was REALLY looking forward to tonight's Champions League Final. The best club competition in the world, with two of the best footballing teams meeting in the final, in a great city, in a fantastic stadium.
For Celtic fans, we had the added spice of Henrik Larsson, one of the greatest ever players to grace our jersey, lining up for Barcelona in a game which would deliver a guaranteed Champions League place to Celtic were he to triumph.
Sometimes these occasions don't live up to the billing. Tonight, it looked like it would. Arsenal - the underdogs - started off great, and it looked like we were heading for a classic.
Until, that is, Norwegian referee Terje Hauge got involved.
How he managed to pull back play, and send off Jens Lehmann, I do not know.
Has the man ever heard of playing advantage?
The offence Mr Hauge punished is defined by FIFA as 'denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player's goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick.'
Denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity!? THE BALL WAS IN THE NET. Barcelona had scored. But Mr Hauge had to call back play and reach for his pocket.
Play on, award the goal, and get on with the game. Is it really so difficult?
It's not like events unfolded slowly or unexpectedly. Lehmann tackled, the ball broke loose, Giuly scored within 2 seconds. Why make a harsh decision when the circumstances do not demand any decision be made? Utter bullshit!
Almost as bad was his decision to award a freekick - leading to the opening goal for Arsenal - after Emmanuel Eboue contrived to be blown over by a gust of wind.
Mr Hauge wasn't biased, he was just plain dreadful.
Why should this bother me? After all, Celtic got the result they wanted.
Even sweeter, our hero Henrik Larsson turned the game - laying on both equaliser and winner. Thus earning himself the medal he so richly deserves.
Next season we start in Pot 2 of The Champions League. No pre-qualifiers; no Bratislava. Thank God!
Better still, we know how much cash we will generate next season. The chequebook can be dusted off, and players lured not only with cash, but Champions League glamour.
The truth is, much as I'm delighted by the result, I feel for the thousands of genuine fans who went to Paris and were denied a fair fight.
The guys who will be sleeping on park benches in thee pouring rain tonight, the guys who paid upward of SEVEN THOUSAND EUROS for a touted ticket, the guys who'd never seen their team in a European final before, and may never again get the opportunity to attend such a grand event.
All of them denied the ultimate final by a referee who seemed only briefly acquainted with the rules, and who just couldn't handle the occasion. Tragic.
Posted by Div at 10:00 pm